FOR Meredith Kercher’s family, the death of her beloved dad John after a suspected hit-and-run is a devastating new blow in more than a decade of agony.
The Kerchers have been plagued by questions over student Meredith’s sex murder for the last 13 years – with John once describing their state as “a limbo that, I suspect, might never end.”
Yet while they have remained haunted by the brutal killing, Meredith’s flatmate Amanda Knox – who was convicted and later cleared of the 21-year-old’s murder – has moved on with her life.
Parties, tattoos and ‘agony aunt’ column
Since being released from prison after four years, Knox, 32, has been partying with pals, getting tattoos and working as a writer – even recently bagging an ‘agony aunt’ newspaper column.
She is also planning her wedding with partner Christopher Robinson later this month – although the couple are actually already married, having tied the knot in secret in 2018.
In contrast, Meredith’s family have struggled to escape their “pain and helplessness” following the “beautiful” student’s death in Perugia, Italy, in November 2007.
“We are still waiting for justice for our daughter and sister,” grief-stricken John – who was 77 when he died on Saturday – wrote in a book about Meredith’s murder.
He added: “[We] have to face up to the stark possibility that we might never have a satisfactory picture of what unfolded in Perugia on that terrible November night.”
Stabbed 47 times and throat cut
Meredith, described by her dad as an “intelligent and caring girl”, was found dead in the apartment she shared with Knox, then 20, while studying in Italy.
She had been stabbed 47 times, sexually assaulted, and her throat was cut.
John, who worked as a national newspaper journalist for 40 years, discovered the horrific news after Meredith’s mum Arline – from whom he was divorced – rang him at home.
She told him she’d seen that a female British student had been found murdered in Perugia – and after calling the foreign desk of a newspaper, John learned it was their daughter.
“I drop the phone. I do not believe it,” he later recalled in a newspaper article.
“There has to be a mistake. I refuse to let the facts sink in.
“I repeat it over and over to myself: ‘Not beautiful Meredith… Not beautiful Meredith.’”
‘I couldn’t face seeing her’
The family later flew to Italy to identify Meredith’s body – but John couldn’t face it.
“It was time to see my daughter. But I could not face going in. The brutal reality of having to see what had been done to Meredith had not really hit home,” he recalled.
Instead, Arline stood beside Meredith and whispered lovingly to her about her father, while the Surrey student’s big sister Stephanie bent down and kissed her “frozen cold” cheeks.
Family’s ‘bitterness’ over acquittal
American Knox and her Italian then-boyfriend Raffaele Sollecito were convicted of Meredith’s murder in 2009, but freed on appeal two years later, having served four years behind bars.
They were found guilty a second time in 2014, but again they were acquitted. At the time, the Kercher family’s lawyer said there was a “great sense of bitterness” over the decision.
Drifter Rudy Guede is now serving a 16-year prison sentence after being convicted of Meredith’s murder and sex assault – yet the student’s family are still plagued by questions.
“[Guede] was convicted on the basis that he did not act alone,” sister Stephanie told the Daily Mail in November 2017. “However, with no one else on trial or convicted it does of course raise questions for us as a family and anyone following the case.”
While Meredith’s family have only occasionally spoken out about their turmoil in recent years, Stephanie has described their “never ceasing” agony, images of the crime scene haunting their minds, and her sister’s infectious laughter ringing “so clear”.
Moving on with cats and selfies
In contrast, Knox seems to have put Meredith’s murder case behind her and carved out a new, remarkably normal, life for herself – filled with cats, love and fun days out.
She documents her adventures as a free woman on Instagram – yet among the newlywed’s light-hearted posts of felines, meals out and silly selfies is more controversial content.
In February last year, Knox appeared to make light of Meredith’s killing by referencing the four years it took her to be acquitted of murder in a post about a murder mystery party.
Alongside a picture of herself dressed as writer Ada Lovelace, Knox wrote: “Victorian London: A priceless painting goes missing and the owner is found both poisoned and stabbed.
“And would you believe it, I, the Countess of Lovelace, am accused.
“Also acquitted, all in 4 hours. Better than 4 years.”
Then, in June 2019, Knox made a bizarre joke as she returned to Italy for the first time since her acquittal – posting a picture of herself clinging to a mountainside with just her face visible.
And just last month, she sparked outrage after posing in her old prison uniform.
Knox captioned the snap: “[Forty] days left until the wedding and 267 tasks left on the wedding To Do list. I’ve locked myself in the craftroom and I’m wearing my old prison uniform. Literally the very same sweatshirt and sweatpants I lived in in Casa Circondariale Capanne, Perugia.”
Some followers reacted angrily, telling her she was “gross” and the post was “sick AF”.
Knox, who lives in Seattle, Washington state, US, has also been far more outspoken than Meredith’s family, even featuring in a Netflix documentary about her experiences.
And she’s also found love – secretly tying the knot with Seattle-based poet and novelist Christopher Robinson in December 2018, less than three years after they began dating.
Their wedding bash is set to be held this month – and Knox has shamelessly asked fans to donate thousands towards it, promising each a copy of the book of poems she wrote with her husband.
However, amid the laughs and smiles, Knox has broken down in public on several occasions.
Last year, she sobbed in Italy as she revealed she still feared fresh charges over Meredith’s murder.
“I know that despite my acquittal issued by the Court of Cassation, I remain a controversial figure in the presence of public opinion, above all and especially here in Italy,” she said.
The Kercher family’s lawyer blasted Knox’s return to the country as “inappropriate”.
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Today, Meredith’s loved ones are facing fresh heartbreak following the death of doting dad John, who was found collapsed on the pavement yards from his front door.
A neighbour, who asked not to be named, told The Sun: “It’s so sad, he was a very nice man.
“Nobody really knows what happened. He was across the road in the shop. He came out. It was quite misty that day. All of a sudden people came out of the shop and he was on the floor.”
Police are currently treating John’s death as “unexplained”.
It can only be hoped that they discover exactly what happened – and quickly – to save Meredith’s family from yet more unanswered questions and torment.